#14 Azusa Pacific Lights Up UH-Hilo
You don’t need to be the Harlem Globetrotters to display great ball handling and an ability to “wow” a crowd.
The Azusa Pacific men’s basketball team put on an all-around clinic Monday night at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in a 109-79 victory over the University of Hawai’i at Hilo in a key PacWest Conference matchup.
“If you just look at the box score, we got out-coached, we got out-played, they out-shot us. They beat our butt in every facet of the game of basketball.” UH-Hilo coach GE Coleman said after the game.
Azusa Pacific (19-3 overall, 12-2 PWC) opened up the game on a 20-0 scoring run over the first five minutes and 45 seconds of the game. Seven different players were a part of the opening barrage, with APU coach Justin Leslie freely flowing substitutions into the game. A pair of UH-Hilo timeouts were needed to try to break the scoring streak.
It wasn’t just an offensive showcase. Azusa Pacific spread out its man defense to force missed shots and turnovers, keeping the Vulcans from getting into an offensive rhythm. The defense would come out several feet above the free throw line and alter passing lanes and dribble penetration. It forced UH-Hilo into an 0-for-9 shooting start.
Vandyon Lockett finally put up five straight points and Tre Johnson added a pair of free throws to get the Vulcans on the board and back into the game, but Azusa Pacific wouldn’t allow it to stay that way. Troy Leaf scored five in a row to balloon the Cougars’ lead back to 20 points with just over nine minutes left in the half and would balloon up to 29 points at halftime.
“It was really difficult,” said Coleman on trying to turn the game around. “It’s all about life, and like I tell them, you’re gonna get knocked down. You’ve got to get your head up and keep battling. We battled and we just didn’t make shots, and they did. They are a good team.”
The lead would grow to as much as 36 points in the second half, but UH-Hilo’s effort, led by Hilo High School graduate Randan Berinobis, kept the game from getting any uglier.
“He’s done that multiple times this year, and that’s something I really have to look at because we can’t start games how we’ve been starting games,” Coleman said. “We dug ourselves a hole against Chaminade and we were lucky enough to get a victory out of that.”
Leaf paced six Cougars in double-figure scoring. He dropped 23 points, dished out four assists, and hit three treys. As a team, Azusa Pacific shot 66.7 percent (40-for-60) from the floor, 60 percent from beyond the arc (15-for-25), and dished out 22 assists.
Jared Zoller drained four three-pointers off the bench for a 16-point night, LyDell Cardwell added three more long bombs for his 13 points, Kevin Stafford and Will Ward each scored 12 points, and Bruce English contributed 10 points.
In the loss, Lockett hit six three point shots of his own, scoring 29 points on 11-for-16 shooting. Johnson struggled to reach 17 points on 3-for-13 shooting. Berinobis added 12 off of the bench.
UH-Hilo fell to 10-9 overall and 6-7 in the PacWest.
Azusa Pacific 56 53 – 109
Hawai’i-Hilo 27 52 – 79